Anime SVOD Crunchyroll nabs US$22-million investment

Crunchyroll founder Kun Gao breaks down his plans for the influx of funding and talks about the reasons the SVOD has endeared itself to anime fans.
November 24, 2015

San Francisco-based anime SVOD Crunchyroll wants to continue its growth strategy, and a new influx of funding from its parent company might be able to help.

The service, which focuses on Japanese-imported anime, and its parent company Ellation, received US$22-million from Otter Media (the joint-venture between the Chernin Group and AT&T), one of the original backers of Crunchyroll. Some of the funds are earmarked to explore other niche SVOD categories, though there is no official word on how the funding will break down.

For Crunchyroll, however, the plan is to continue to grow its based of paid subscribers, who currently fork over US$6.95 per month, as well as its free-registered user base (paid subscribers have access to more premium, robust content), says Kun Gao, founder and managing director of Crunchyroll.

The SVOD now has more than 20 million members, including 750,000 paid subscribers, making it one of the 10 biggest SVOD services in the world. For comparison, Netflix has more than 44 million subscribers in the US alone, while Hulu has about nine million.

According to Gao, while the company will also beef up its marketing and member acquisition teams, the big focus for the investment will be on increasing its content offering, as well as making sure Crunchyroll is ubiquitous within the anime community.

Within the content realm, that means increasing its investment in Japanese programming. Already, Crunchyroll streams roughly four out of every five anime programs aired on TV in Japan. The company receives the content a few days prior to broadcast and has it captioned in six different languages before the content goes live. That has endeared fans to the product, Gao says, and today, instantaneous content online is simply “table stakes” for any SVOD.

The company will also start exploring original content, though Gao has no details yet on the number of titles or expected launch times for originals.

He adds that while the anime market has a huge following, much of the current content is made for the Japanese domestic market, and he believes that there is a huge opportunity for anime content created with a more global lens.

Of course, Crunchyroll is also going to continue to deepen its ties to the overall fan culture, including an expected increased presence at fan expos, premium perks for subscribers and a deeper digital engagement. The platform maintains both an online store, where audience members can purchase merch, as well as a community forum, where consumers can connect with other fans to discuss and share their favorite series.

From Stream. With files from Megan Haynes. 

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